In the Old Testament, I am reading through Psalms. A couple of days ago, I came to Psalm 90 – the only psalm written by Moses – and was struck by its opening words:
“Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations…”
Think a minute about just who was saying this. The man that God commissioned to take his people out of Egypt and right to the gates of the Promised Land. So, had God’s people not had a dwelling place up to that point? Of course they had. The true and eternal dwelling place that the acreage of Israel symbolized – God Himself.
Did Moses consider the acreage a more ‘real’ inheritance than God’s people already had? Of course not. Mere earthly territory could never have superseded the promise of abiding in God Himself. That would have been a huge step backward.
As the writer of Hebrews said, long after the Jews had their earthly territory, this was by no means the ‘rest’ God had promised them.
“For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God….Let us therefore strive to enter that rest…”
That rest is, of course, our Lord Himself.
“Come unto me all you who labor and and heavy-laden and I will give you rest….Abide in me….” And so on.
One of the most important verses in the whole Bible in terms of understanding the essence of God’s promises is Galatians 3:16:
“Now the promises were made to Abraham and his offspring. It does not say ’offsprings’ referring to many, but referring to one, ‘And to your offspring’ (singular) who is Christ.”
In other words, in their most essential sense, the great promises of God were made to one person,Christ – not Israel. Why? Because, of course, Christ was the only one worthy of them, the only one who could fulfil the conditions of the covenant. He was God’s great covenant! (Isaiah 49:8b) And its heir. Christ and Christ alone.
And he offers us the incredible honor and privilege of being joint heirs with him.
Believing Jews, believing Gentiles – we enter exactly the same way on exactly the same footing and inherit the true Promised Land – the New Heavens and the New Earth – together as the one people of God: true spiritual Israel – when we are engrafted into Him. His country. His rest. Christ as the rest…
Moses understood it. Why do we find it so difficult?
Many years ago, we had a Jewish accountant who became interested in the gospel for a time. One day John had a great opportunity to talk with him about these things. He said to him, “Larry (we will call him), do you not understand that Moses could not have taken God’s people into the Promised Land. ‘Law’ can’t get people there and Moses is associated with law in the Bible. (Though, as we have said, he personally understood grace). That is why another was given that privilege. Joshua. The one sharing the name of our Savior, Jesus, foreshadowing that Savior. He is the one who leads us into God’s true rest, our eternal dwelling place.
There was a pause and Larry said,
“WHY HAS NO ONE EVER TOLD ME THIS BEFORE?”
Larry, because so many Christians don’t understand these things!
May we be faithful in separating the shadows of Scripture from their fulfilment, showing the eternal purposes of God to bless all who are in Christ: God’s great ‘Yea and Amen’.